Report: Raiders’ Antonio Brown Threatens to Quit Football over Helmet Dispute

Antonio Brown
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

It’s no secret that athletes are partial to their gear, but not everyone is prepared to walk away from tens of millions of dollars just because they can’t wear the helmet they want.

Well, it’s starting to look like Antonio Brown is prepared to do just that.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Friday that Brown — Oakland’s prized off-season acquisition and arguably the best wide receiver in the game — is threatening to never play football again if he can’t wear the helmet he prefers:

Shortly after those tweets, ESPN NFL writer Kevin Seifert wrote a piece with updated information on the specifics of Brown’s situation.

Brown participated in a two-hour conference call on Friday, Schefter reported, as part a grievance that he hopes will provide an exception to wear his old helmet. That model is a Schutt Air Advantage, according to a league source, and it was discontinued by the manufacturer earlier this decade.

The league is apparently not able to certify the helmet that Brown wants to wear, in part, because it’s too old.

The NFL has a longstanding policy that requires all players to wear helmets that have been certified by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE). And NOCSAE won’t certify the helmet because it is more than 10 years old, according to the league source. Like all products and technology, helmets are frequently updated over time. Every player is made aware of the policy, so Brown should not have been surprised that it would be disallowed in 2019.

If Brown were to try and wear the helmet he prefers, the Raiders could find themselves in a lot of trouble.

In April, the NFL announced a related but separate policy that banned certain helmets that performed poorly in laboratory testing. The onus was put on teams to ensure that no player had access to or wore a banned helmet. If a team was found to have known about a player wearing a banned helmet, or to have facilitated the use of one, it would be subject to league discipline, an NFL executive said at the time.

To avoid wearing the league mandated helmet, Brown is apparently willing to throw his NFL career away. Not to mention, the $30.125 million in guaranteed money he is set to earn over the next two years.

Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn

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